May 01--Already sick of buff superheroes, exploding buildings, insufferable aliens and movies with Roman numerals in their titles?
Take comfort. This summer, you'll have numerous opportunities to add more fiber than usual to your normally empty-calorie summer movie diet. These 10 non-blockbuster films are expected to deliver the quality goods in theaters.
"What Maisie Knew"
The story: A selfish couple (Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan) act like juveniles during a bitter tug-of-war custody battle over their adorable 6-year-old daughter (Onata Aprile) in this modernist take on a Henry James novel.
Why it's here: I've seen it, and it's lovely. What sounds like an
unremarkable TV movie is transformed into an emotional, heartbreaking drama. Great performances abound, and it's written and directed with grace.
The story: A goofy 27-year-old wannabe dancer (Greta Gerwig) struggles to find her place in New York City in this dramedy from Noah Baumbach ("The Squid and the Whale").
Why it's here: I've seen this one, too, and it's positively delightful. Gerwig is fetching and endearing, the writing so witty without being full of itself, and the directing couldn't be better. You'll fall for Frances, quirks and all.
The story: The perceptions of an agent (Brit
Marling) start to change when she embeds herself into an anarchistic group that targets big businesses. Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard co-star.
Why it's here: If you missed Marling and director Zal Batmanglij's unique, cult-themed thriller "Sound of My Voice" get thee to a Netflix queue now. This marks the talented duo's first steps into studio filmmaking.
"The Kings of Summer"
The story: Rather than spend their summer doing absolutely nothing, a trio of teens ventures into the woods to live there.
Why it's here: Even if it looks like someone tossed "Stand By Me" and "Moonrise Kingdom" into the screenwriting blender, this Sundance Film Festival crowd-pleaser is said to be the coming-of-age comedy we've all been hankering for.
"Much Ado About Nothing"
The story: One of Shakespeare's most accessible, certainly romantic plays receives the Joss Whedon ("The Avengers") indie-film treatment.
Why it's here: Are you kidding? It's from the guy who gave us the pop-culture phenom "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Can't wait to see what the man whose imprimatur stands for inventive quality will do with the Bard.
"I'm So Excited"
The story: A plane bound for Mexico City faces dire problems, so while others try to save the day, flight attendants and crew do their darndest to make passengers see the sunny side of a perilous situation.
Why it's here: Pedro Almodovar is flying this colorful bird, and the kooky trailer with three flight attendants lip-syncing to the addictive Pointer Sisters tune promises that this will be a silly, all-frills flight. Buckle up.
"Only God Forgives"
The story: Some moms just want a phone call every now and then. But the lethal mama (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) demands much more from her son (Ryan Gosling), namely to hunt down and kill the guy responsible for rubbing out her other boy.
Why it's here: Gosling (so terrific in "The Place Beyond the Pines") reteams with "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn, who's quickly become a fave for cinema hipsters. The twisted red-band trailer raised eyebrows, with Scott Thomas looking particularly evil. There will be blood, lots of bad blood spilled, along with edgy style to spare.
The story: The final day of Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old Hayward man fatally shot by a BART police officer on New Year's Day 2009 in Oakland, is depicted in Ryan Coogler's lauded, award-winning film.
Why it's here: The buzz is off the charts since it took home the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Those lucky enough to have seen it -- including Joseph Gordon-Levitt -- took to Twitter to rave about it. Doesn't hurt that Michael B. Jordan ("The Wire") and Octavia Spencer (Oscar winner for "The Help") star.
"The World's End"
The story: Everyone's remaining a bit tight-lipped about this third comedy from funnyman Edgar Wright, who gifted us with spry cult faves "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz." We do know it involves a group of guys coming back together for a pub crawl that goes awry. There might be aliens in it. Or not.
Why it's here: I'm a huge fan of "Shaun" and "Fuzz," two of my all-time favorite comedies. Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are 2-for-2 so far, and I expect the winning streak to continue -- even though this might turn into being a distant cousin of "This Is the End," the doomsday comedy with Seth Rogen, James Franco and Jonah Hill that opens June 12.
The story: Cate Blanchett (love her!) and Alec Baldwin (like him!) play a New York couple who pack up their emotional baggage for a trip to the San Francisco area in this Woody Allen comedy.
Why it's here: Because it's about time Allen gave one of the world's most beautiful cities his full travelogue treatment. But, even with an eclectic cast -- Louis C.K. and even Andrew Dice Clay pop up -- I'm worried this might be lazy Allen ("To Rome With Love") rather than invigorated Allen ("Midnight in Paris"). Keep your fingers crossed.
(c)2013 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
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